She looked at Aelin’s face - the face she’d once worn - and at her still outstretched hand, so small and unscarred. The darkness of the Valg princes flickered.
There was solid ground beneath her. Moss and grass. Not hell - earth. The earth on which her kingdom lay, green and mountainous and as unyielding as its people. Her people.
Her people, waiting for ten years, but no longer.
She could see the snow-capped Staghorns, the wild tangle of Oakwald at their feet, and … and Orynth, that city of light and learning, once a pillar of strength - and her home.
It would be both again.
She would not let that light go out.
She would fill the world with it, with her light - her gift. She would light up the darkness, so brightly that all who were lost or wounded or broken would find their way to it, a beacon for those who still dwelled in that abyss. It would not take a monster to destroy a monster - but light, light to drive out darkness.
She was not afraid.
She would remake the world - remake it for them, those she had loved with this glorious, burning heart; a world so brilliant and prosperous that when she saw them again in the Afterworld, she would not be ashamed. She would build it for her people, who had survived this long, and whom she would not abandon. She would make for them a kingdom such as there had never been, even if it took until her last breath.
She was their queen, and she could offer them nothing less.
Aelin Galathynius smiled at her, hand still outreached. “Get up,” the princess said.
Celaena reached across the earth between them and brushed her fingers against Aelin’s.